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Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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You “herd” it here – goats have their work cut out for them this year


Tended by the city’s primary goat herder, Agotillo Moreno, Laguna’s goat herds have been busily dining and clearing 80 percent of native grasses and 100 percent of non-native vegetation on our hillsides this year. It’s a big job, and there are two active herds chewing their way through the hills, with more help (hopefully) on the way. Once the goats finish their vital work, they will go back to their home at Indacochea Sheep Ranch in Wildomar, Calif.

you herd closeup

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Goat herd on Dartmoor Trail

“The city is attempting to acquire a third herd, and we are hoping to have them within the next two weeks,” said Fire Chief Niko King. “We update the community on the goat’s activity in our weekly Community Newsletter, which you can subscribe to by texting 92651 to 888.777.”

On Tuesday, part of the herd was seen on the hill across from the Festival of Arts.

Chief King explained the many values of their presence. “The goats are some of the hardest-working crews and serve several purposes. Not only do they contribute to reducing the fuel load around our city, but they also provide a sense of annual tradition that is always welcoming and brings many smiles to our residents. It is also a sign of the city’s commitment to the safety of our residents.   As evident, due to our unusual rainy season this year, we have an excessive fuel load throughout the city. The goats have their work cut out for them this year.”

The past winter’s storms brought both pros and cons.

“Now that we’ve had the rain we needed, the vegetation throughout our community is growing faster and more densely than we’ve seen in several years,” Chief King said. “While many of our native plants can be more adapted to fire, invasive grasses and invasive mustards dry out and turn into light flashy fuels that have the potential to increase fire danger to our community in the coming months.”

you herd boys

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Boys watch goat herd hard at work recently clearing a Dartmoor Trail hillside

The goats play a critical part in our fire safety; however, the community needs to do its part as well.

According to the Fire Marshal’s message: “A wildfire is the highest threat to our community. Let’s be vigilant and do our part by clearing the brush around our property.”

“Our 2023 fuel modification program (to access, click here) has been well underway for a couple of months now,” said Chief King. “Work will continue to thin vegetation growth in fuel modification zones to make sure our community is as prepared as possible before the hot dry summer months roll in, accompanied by the late fall wind events.”

You can help by keeping an eye out for fire hazards in the community and prepare your own home to be fire safe:

–Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers.

–Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.

–Reduce embers that could pass through vents in the eaves by installing 1/8-inch metal mesh screening.

–Clean debris from exterior attic vents and install 1/8-inch metal mesh screening to reduce embers.

–Repair or replace damaged or loose window screens and any broken windows.

–Screen or box in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.

–Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn.

–Remove anything stored underneath decks and porches.

The fire department also provides a free wildfire consultation where their experienced staff will come to your home and offer advice about how you can prepare your property and landscape to best withstand a wildfire. Click here or call 949.497.0700 to find out more.


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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